The past decade has witnessed increasingly detailed insights into the structural mechanism of the bacteriorhodopsin photocycle. Concurrently, there has been much progress within our knowledge pertaining to the lipids of the purple membrane, including the discovery of new lipids and the overall effort to localize and identify each lipid within the purple membrane. Therefore, there is a need to classify this information to generalize the findings. We discuss the properties and roles of haloarchaeal lipids and present the structural data as individual case studies. Lipid-protein interactions are discussed in the context of structure-function relationships. A brief discussion of the possibility that bacteriorhodopsin functions as a light-driven inward hydroxide pump rather than an outward proton pump is also presented.